Raleigh couple takes part in Novavax vaccine trial as company hopes for emergency authorization

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- A fourth vaccine could soon be added to the arsenal of weapons against the novel Coronavirus.

Triangle residents played a role in the successful trials of the Novavax PREVENT-19 vaccine and if approved for emergency use by the FDA, the Triangle will play a role in producing the vaccine.

Novavax says COVID-19 vaccine shows 90.4% overall efficacy in US Phase 3 trial

Richard Rosenthal of Raleigh and his wife Erika both enrolled as participants in the trials of Novavax's PREVENT-19 vaccine in January.

"Anything I could do to make my neighbor safer, I'm glad to help," Rosenthal said. "I felt it patriotic to get vaccinated."

Rosenthal said Novavax guaranteed that everyone who took part in the trial would end up vaccinated with the real thing at the end of the trial even if they had been given the placebo.

That was also a big motivation for the Rosenthals at a time when only a small segment of people were allowed to get vaccinated.

"I wanted to see my parents. I wanted my parents to feel safe seeing me and my kids. And so not being able to see your family, that was really difficult," he said.

The Rosenthals took part in stage 3 trials; the final trails for the PREVENT-19 vaccine.

The results have been announced and Novavax claims it's more than 90% effective.

That rate is nearly as good as Pfizer and Moderna and better than Johnson & Johnson.

And the fact that it was tested later than the others may be a good thing.

"Novavax is getting more of a real-world workout because we are seeing in the face of people starting to resume much more normal activities," said Dr. Matthew Hong, a lead investigator for Wake Research.

He also coordinated the company's trials for the Novavax vaccine, and he said the trials for PREVENT-19 were also conducted when a lot of a variants were circulating, including the Delta variant.

Wake Research, a local company with headquarters in RTP, conducted trials across the country and said it was recognized by Novavax for having the highest rate of enrollment among all the companies conducting PREVENT-19 trials.

The Triangle will have even more involvement if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gives emergency authorization to the vaccine this fall.

Novavax has contracted with a FUJIFILM Diosynth facility in Morrisville to manufacture the vaccine.

"It's just one more way the Triangle is really emerging as a leader, not just the United States but the world for how, you know, up-and-coming biological and medical technology," Hong said.

Rosenthal said he hopes that hometown effort along with his experience may encourage people who haven't been vaccinated to do it.

"We made a choice to be part of the study, that it was successful, that we stayed healthy because of it, that we believe we stayed healthy because of it, is something worth sharing," he said.
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